I fell in love with the smell and taste of coffee over 20 years ago. Whilst at college I worked at a coffee shop owned by the family of someone I studied with. I was mesmerised by the smell of the beans being freshly ground, a smell that you never tire off.
My first apartment then had to have an espresso machine. I would order in huge bags of Blue Mountain beans which I loved so much, however I now kick myself HARD, as it wasn’t until a little later that I really found the joy of a good espresso or even better a ristretto, usually using them to make a cappuccino.
In my 20’s I went to work in Portugal. Fresh milk just wasn’t the same as in the UK and all the locals drank espresso, or to be precise a ‘bica’. It wasn’t long until a trip to the local shop wasn’t complete without practising my Portuguese with an ‘Um bica fez favor’. A cheap 20-30 cent cup of very strong and short coffee, no seats, just a stand up bar – order, pay, drink, leave. These were everywhere, it was although the Portuguese couldn’t go 10 mins without one of these caffeine fixes.
My travels and work in various countries then gave me more highs and lows of coffee, from local Brazilian delights to Egyptian ‘Nescafe’.
But now I’m back in the UK, I have had to make sure that good coffee is always on tap, trying all kinds of beans from online to local roaster’s like Heart and Graft in Manchester, which do some amazing beans.
Having once had a Dulce Gusto capsule machine in Mexico, I was never tempted to go back down that route, preferring to have fresh beans, a grinder and a simple pressure espresso machine, however there was one thing that was really starting to bother me – the time constraint and cleaning involved when making a quick espresso in the morning before work.
After a little research I decided to try out the Nespresso machine for a year. An £18 a month subscription on their ‘Nespresso Club’ gets you a free machine and £18 a month to spend on coffee (Other more expensive/extra perk options are also available). So basically as long as you spend £18 a month the machine costs nothing. That’s easy to do, however if you don’t spend it all, no bother, the credit stays in your account for up-to 3 years!!
The main thing that tempted me with Nespresso over other capsule machines, were the variety of different coffees or ‘Grand Crus’ that they offered.
I started with the stronger coffees, these however I found quite bitter, and with a little trial and error have managed to settle on 3 or 4 that I love (A sample of different coffees comes with the machine so you can find which you like)
The Machine is so quick and easy, I can now make an espresso within a minute in the mornings, then straight out the door – perfect for want I wanted. I have to admit, the coffee is far superior then I ever thought it would be!!
Now the real question… is this better than what I used to have?? – That all depends. For ease and convenience the Nespresso wins hands down, but in truth I’m already missing some of the great flavours I used to discover from local roasters. I really did want to try out their ‘Speciality Origins’ capsules, these are more expensive at £1 a capsule, rather than about 31-39p, I would be happy to pay that for a great tasting espresso, the trouble however is they only sell them in minimum packs of 50, and you have to buy 2 types of capsule – therefore minimum spend on these are £100. A little extravagant to try out a new coffee. Nespresso were unable to assist with a trial of these so I have no idea if they are as good as they say.
Ill carry on with the Nespresso for now, I have 6-7 months left of my subscription, Ill update if I ever try the good capsules!! I still have my Espresso machine for weekend back up should I need some of those great Heart and Graft beans….. the only other thing to try next is a good bean to cup machine……
UPDATE MARCH 2018
I have continued to use my Nespresso machine – and have found new Grand Cru’s to try.
Another bonus is to be able to pop into the Boutique Store and try out some other coffees before actually buying.
On the down side, I found that in colder months, the water coming through the machine was only luke warm. I have started to run the machine a couple of times without a capsule in, this flushes it and also heats the water up to the correct temperature.
Some of the more expensive Nespresso Machines have temperature settings, maybe these would work better – although I am not convinced it is worth the extra outlay just to ‘test’ to see if its better or not.
5 Months are left on my subscription – We shall still have to see what I decide next!